Official Site report:
The Pitmen continued their winless streak against their fierce local rivals on Tuesday night, finally going down to a 2-1 defeat in the Staffordshire Senior Cup. However, it could have been a different story had the Hednesford attack taken the numerous chances created deduring a foggy night at Keys Park.
The home side started well and within five minutes a free kick from Elliott Durrell was blocked and Tim Sandercombe in the Stafford goal blocked a Dale Anderson shot.
Club captain Ross Draper looked by far the most impressive Hednesford player and in the early stages he made his mark on the game with a number of strong blocks and winning tackles. It was a similar story for Stafford with the outstanding Wayne Daniel winning every header and setting out his stall as an immovable object in the heart of the away sides defence.
After a foul on Anderson a quick free kick released Draper through the centre on seventeen minutes only for Sandercombe to show his alertness and get to the ball quickest. Young striker Luke Edwards subsequently replaced Anderson after the number nine failed to recover from his knock.
In the fifteen minutes after the injury to Anderson, the Conference North outfit began to get a grip on the game and after some concerted pressure the breakthrough was always on the cards. The opening goal came on twenty-five minutes when a free kick wasn't cleared properly by Marshall and Gill and Dave McNiven scrambled the ball home for the away side to draw first blood.
After the opening goal, the foggy conditions worsened and the game followed suit with only Draper and Daniel excelling in a scrappy encounter. Edwards' shot on the turn on thirty-six minutes narrowly cleared the crossbar and as the crowd looked forward to a hot drink at half time Hednesford had the three good opportunities to grab an equaliser before the break. First Draper shot straight at the keeper only for Dyer to slice wide from the follow up and after Elliott Durrell exploded into action with a pacey run he could only curl the ball the wrong side of the post.
Hednesford started the second half brightly and had an opportunity to equalise on forty nine minutes when Elliott Durrell did well to dig out a cross from the right only for Dyer to head the ball over the bar.
Stafford came close to doubling their lead on fifty three minutes when McNiven found some space on the edge of the area but slipped his shot just wide of the post under pressure from the Hednesford backline.
On fifty-five minutes Dean Craven created a chance out of nothing when, for the first time in the match, he got a run on the immovable Wayne Daniel. The marauding left back pushed the ball past the centre-back and reached the left hand touch line; he cut in and squared the ball for Luke Edwards. The substitute did everything right but was denied by a quality save by Sandercombe. The Stafford keeper was again called upon to block a Marshall header from the resulting corner.
Four minutes later Edwards was put through by a long ball and found himself one-on-one with Sandercombe, he out paced the defence, opened his body and looked to slot the ball into the net for a deserved equaliser. To the amazement of all those supporters following Hednesford, Edwards rolled the ball beyond the goalkeeper and sent it wide of the near post.
Daniel was called upon three times in three minutes to keep his side in the lead when, firstly, on sixty-three minutes his last gasp goal saving block prevented Durrell equalising form twelve yards after a corner caused havoc in the Stafford Rangers area.
Durrell released Ross Dyer towards the penalty area with a sublime pass only for the striker to be tackled by Daniel and after Luke Edwards charged down a clearance and squared the ball to Dyer, Daniel was there again to keep his side in the lead.
The Stafford captain's sterling defensive work paid off handsomely when Stafford scored a second goal on seventy-one minutes. Hednesford hearts were broken and the game was all but put to bed. There didn't seem to be too many problems when a ball was played towards Tom Marshall and Rapinder Gill; neither defender dealt with the danger and Matt Buckham nipped in, placing the ball past Woodhall, off the far post and into the net.
With Hednesford now facing an imposing mountain to climb credit must be given to Dean Edwards' side for not giving up and continuing to create opportunities into the final ten minutes. Sandercombe was called into action and made an outstanding save when Luke Edwards broke free and Durrell blazed over when clean through on goal after eighty minutes.
The Pitmen continued to pressurise the Stafford back line and after a Craven corner wasn't cleared Durrell had another shot blocked and Ross Drapers weak header looped over the bar.
Sandercombe made one final top drawer save from Draper on eighty seven minutes but not even the on form keeper could prevent Ross Dyer smashing a rebound into the roof of the net with two minutes remaining. The goal sadly came too late for The Pitmen to launch a famous comeback and as the fog continued to roll in and the crowd of four hundred and seventy-nine began to drift away Stafford saw the game through.
Chris Brindley and all involved with Stafford will no doubt be very pleased to come away from the derby with a victory but ‘The Pitmen' must now move onto more important games ahead. One win in nine has seen Hednesford experience their first real blip in a very successful season and with league leaders Eastwood Town next up at Keys Park the next few weeks will undoubtedly define their season.